This was my second ever float and I want to warn you that unless you really want to know more about the floating experience, my personal one, click on one of the word cloud buttons in my blog and find something that is more relevant to your interests.
When I first started floating back in 1987 it was something quite new. I was sales and marketing manager for a company that was very successful, but being embezzled by its CEO which was apparently a recidist pattern for him, but one I didn’t find out about until after it had cost me and some of my colleagues a lot of money and stress. I won’t mention the company, some of you will know the story. It’s really just to say that I was working really hard, bringing in some amazing 6 figure sales, and stressed, partly because at the time I knew something wasn’t koshur but I didn’t know what. I do wish some of the people who knew the past history of this criminal had warned me, because I would never have accepted the job and would probably have followed the career path opportunity to Santa Clara that stood before me.
So I go from there to the following experience, which is pretty long and unexpurgated. It’s basically my journal and pretty geeky. So here goes:
“I don’t know at this stage if there is any relevance or not, but shortly after my first float I felt a sensation in the region of the right-front part of my brain. I have felt it several times since, almost as if another sense is trying to find its way out. It has no other manifestation other than a slightly happy feeling accompanying it, which may be psychosomatic. It feels related to and yet isolated from the optical nerves.
Today, (Sunday) I had my second float, one and a half weeks after my first. I did not feel as stressed, although I did feel a need for an aid to relax. I was also keen to follow through on the principles of floating which I had started reading about. There was a force driving me to write down my experiences. A sense that something good was going to eventuate from this, far more than just relaxation.
The last week has been very tiring. Thursday was marred by arguments with the CEO and other stress-inducing problems. In the afternoon I left Auckland and drove to Palmerston North (About 350 miles). The Sales Engineer and I finished setting up a demo at the hotel we were staying in at 11:30PM.
The demonstration did not finish until after 4PM the following day, which was followed by further arguments with the CEO. It basically came down to, I was bringing in cheques from clients for 6 figure sums of money. They were being deposited somewhere and I was being told the clients hadn’t paid and to chase them for the money I had already handed in. I had never experienced a con artist like this and this being one of my greatest values, I really didn’t know how to handle it.
By 8:30PM, I was exhausted, driving back home I was starting to drift to the wrong side of the road. I decided to stay overnight in Taupo. I can’t remember the last time I felt so exhausted and overemotional. I write this because it relates to my mental state when I had my second float.
So back to the float. I was much more relaxed physically and settled in very quickly.
I did not experience the same heaviness in my neck and shoulder muscles, which suggests that much of the physical effect from the first float was a release of long term muscular tension”
Note, I am pretty much copying what I wrote verbatim at the time. It’s raw and was only really written as a personal journal. It’s quite interesting reading this 32 years later. I also want to note that I was not under the influence of any drugs of any kind.
“The muscles that felt tired and were unravelling this time were those I had just used for 1,200km of driving; arm and leg muscles.
-Mental / physical disorientation. The first example was a feeling as if I had my legs crossed at the ankles. Although they weren’t crossed (I checked), my senses were convinced that they were.
An ex-client once lost a hand in a chainsaw accident. For months afterward he felt pain in the fingers of a hand that no longer existed. (AKA Phantom Limbs)
I had a similar manifestation on several occasions that I was clenching my fists. Again I knew that my hands were open and relaxed (in the yoga nidra position, palms up). It was not just a feeling that my fists were clenched, my sense of touch had no doubt at all. However, I raised my hands, they were as I knew, open and relaxed.
I passed into and through the REM state much more quickly than in the first occasion. I find the REM state enjoyable and relaxing even if my eyes seem to be going to town.
I finally reached a point where my mind and senses were totally blank. This must be very similar to the point people seek with meditation. It was a sense of being nothing, or an infinitesimal body in a black void and being totally relaxed and comfortable with it.
I believe that this period lasted for only a fraction of a second, although it appeared to be a long time. As soon as I realised I was in this state, I snapped back to reality.
I have noticed a tendency, which makes me feel a little cautious, possibly stopping me from achieving total relaxation, in that my respiration rate is reduced to a mere fraction of normal, and there are in fact periods where I do not breathe at all, at least in comparison to my normal conscious state. The breaths are so far apart that when they come, they distract me.
I also noticed that after the first float, for 1 or 2 days, my time sense seemed altered. For example the time period between light changes at traffic signals seemed much longer, although intellectually I knew this was not so. (Weed smokers will probably relate to this, but I promise, I was totally straight).
Other than that there is little to remark upon. The second float was understandably a little anticlimactic and the endorphin level much lower than it was previously. I was advised by the manager to expect changes over the next few days.
Meanwhile, my driving muscles are feeling sore and I do not feel the same sense of euphoric confidence as I did the first time.”
I think like most experiences, the first is often the most moving. Reading back through this, it is probably very boring, but being a geek, I was trying to analyse the experience, as well as enjoy it. There were in fact physiological and psychological ongoing benefits from this which I will write about in my next blog.
As I have said previously, these blogs are personal and I share them in case they are of interest to someone and to remind me of previous times. If you haven’t floated before, or you want to get more out of your experience, I also recommend keeping a journal.
If it sparks your interest, go and visit Float Culture and tell them that my blog vaught your interest and Luigi sent you. If you are not in Auckland, just Google float tank and I’m sure you will find one reasonably close by. Anton, the owner of Float Culture told me that there are now 19 places in New Zealand where you can ‘float’. I’m sure that is a record and shows that there is real benefit from this experience.
If you have been following my recent posts you will know that I have decided to set up 150 values based activities or experiences to achieve in the next 5 years, having been told that I am now in remission from cancer.
I have always been fascinated by lava. Living in New Zealand, I have been to White Island and experienced sulphur plumes, seen active crater lakes and live a few kilometers from Rangitoto Island, a dormant volcano in Auckland. I’ve seen bubbling mud and enjoyed geothermal hot pools, but I have never seen actual lava pouring down a volcano.
So Life List #5 is to go to Hawaii and experience this from a helicopter or whatever safe way we can get to see the fire coming out of the belly of the earth. of course while there, we can also get to experience another part of island life, Pearl Harbor and other aspects of the islands.
As I was sipping my pleasantly flavored urinary alkalinizer this morning, I was thinking back to yesterday. Because I had a few radiation free days over Christmas, I had to go in to the hospital twice for my photon blast. Sounds a bit like a cocktail drink doesn’t it. Maybe I should invent one when I’m better. It’ll be a purple drink that will knock your socks off.
When I got home after the second bout I was planning on playing guitar or something but I didn’t really have the energy to do anything.
It’s an odd feeling. I was expecting to feel tired and I did, but its a different type of tired. The radiologist defined it quite astutely this morning, if not a little close to the subject of attention, when she said “A lot of men find themselves feeling knackered when they have two doses in one day.”
In my part of the world knackers are slang for testicles if I need to be any clearer, but in this sense it relates to the exhausted state at which horses or other livestock are no longer of any use to their owners and are sent to the knackers yard to be rendered into pet food or other items of greater usefulness.
Anyway, I was feeling a little more energetic as I got changed this morning for day 19 of my treatment. Back in the groove as it were, getting into my lava lava, chatting with others in the waiting room and then heading for LA 3 to watch the purple light on the radiation machine spin around my torso.
I feel like I should be doing something like walking, or painting the fence. But I might have to be a bit like rally driver Possum Bourne’s uncle who I used to work with at Tait Electronics. He said to me that whenever he felt like going for a run, he would lie down until the feeling passed.
I have written a speech this morning, which I hope to be allowed to give at a dear friend’s wedding next week, so I haven’t totally wasted the day.
Anyway, I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and wish you safe travels if you are heading away to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I have 3 days off treatment and will be joining the throng heading for the winter-less north, although I have been receiving weather forecast emails containing severe rain warnings. Not a problem though, I’ll have a guitar or two with me and good company. I wrote the song Raglan Rain on just such a trip. Maybe my muse will come with me.
A study done by the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center in New York, revealed that drinking and driving resulted in the death’s of 2,700 teens in the US, compared to 3,000 from texting and driving.
How about a quick, honest but anonymous poll:
I was listening to the Peggy Smedley Show this morning while cleaning the bathroom and enjoyed some great interviews in her Distracted Driving Month series. The topics were great, everything from the value of reversing cameras through to why car manufacturers are putting social media technology into their cars.
Anyway, a subject that peaked my interest was comparisons of factors impacting on or causing accidents.Talking or texting on the phone is one that that police and others who examine the results of motor accidents look for by default these days.
Peggy quoted a study (can’t remember which university) where they found that people with a blood alcohol level of .08 performed better behind the wheel than people who were using their mobile phone. If you want more detail, listen to Peggy’s back shows on her website or on iTunes, the latest ones being about Debunking Myths about Cellphones and Driving.
Just putting that into context, most people think that dialing a number (I only dial on my hands-free via voice commands with Siri, or not at all these days) or sending a txt isn’t a big deal. I see ‘professional drivers’ holding their mobile up to their ear pretty much daily. One would assume they are sober, and mentally alert. I was also going to say relaxed, but if they were relaxed, they probably wouldn’t feel the need to take a personal risk, let alone knowing they are breaking the law; so you could surmise that they are already distracted and their minds are not on the road. Yet the study showed that drivers using their mobile were more distracted and less able to perform than those who were at a blood alcohol level where, according to a Blood Alcohol Chart on Wikipedia, they were at the upper range and would be experiencing:
- Impaired reasoning
- Reduced depth perception
- Reduced peripheral vision
- Reduced glare recovery; and behaviors including
- Blunted feelings
- Dis-inhibition; and
I really enjoy listening to music when I drive and I have a full subscription to Spotify. I love it. My iPhone FM Transmitter sends it to my car stereo, while charging my phone. I like that. I have been guilty of occasionally looking down at my iPhone for the name of an artist or to skip a track. Our maximum legal driving speed on motorways and highways in New Zealand is 100kmph. Often that is on highways where kids play or cycle on the side of the road. All it takes is for a ball to bounce onto the road, or wandering stock to change things in an instant.
So I thought I’d have a look at the numbers and went to the Unitarium online speed calculator. I worked out that if my eyes were on my phone for 3 seconds (doesn’t sound like much) whilst driving at a legal 100km per hour, my eyes would have left the road and I would have been oblivious to what was happening on it for 30 meters!
Have you ever done that?
Are you thinking about buying a new GPS Car Navigation device or application? I blogged on this topic last year and the blog proved to be incredibly popular, so its time for an update.
People still tell me that they know their way around and don’t need car navigation. Perhaps so, but they don’t know what the traffic is like on the way to their destination and real time traffic is one of the most valuable features of today’s car navigation devices.
As I write this, a storm has been forecast for most of the North Island. This means flooding, accidents and every man and his dog in Auckland has taken their car to work, which means a crawl on the motorways. Wouldn’t you like to know what roads to avoid?
TomTom includes the data used by AA Roadwatch, which is a great resource to check before you get in your car, but doesn’t help once you are driving and a new incident occurs. What is your time worth? Where would you rather be?
Over the last week I have been trying out the new TomTom GO 600 and have been comparing it with other brands and devices that I have used as well as with Google Maps on my iPhone which a lot of people are doing these days. I have been very impressed.
Now this blog is my opinion, and it is based on years of experience working in the industry with many brands of car navigation, including OEM in-car, Portable Navigation Devices (PND’s) and mobile applications.
Works Out of the Box. Getting started with the new device was a breeze. I plugged it into my computer and within a short period of time had the account set up, the latest maps (and a $20 credit for a purchase such as one of 103 different celebrity or funny voices) and was on my way. The user interface is the easiest I have seen to date, including previous TomTom devices.
Display Size. It has a 15cm (6″) touch screen which seems bigger than the unit that is built into my car dash. This is brilliant when it comes to data entry. My hands aren’t that big, but this does make life much easier when it comes to entering an address.
Finding Your Destination. It has never been easier. You used to have to know what suburb you were looking for, or go through menu’s to find a business. Now you just start entering data and tap the destination. It shows you how far to your destination and by default tells you where the nearest car parks are. There seem to be way less buttons and it is far more intuitive.
TomTom has come to the party with lifetime maps and lifetime real time traffic. That’s a big one for me because these devices are extremely reliable and knowing I don’t have to buy either of these again in the near future is a big plus. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but they last for years!
Up To Date Maps. Now you would think that all maps would be the same right? You would think that Google would be as up to date as anyone else right? Wrong. Having worked for a mapping company for 8 years, I know the investment that goes into keeping maps up to date and its a lot of work and expensive to maintain.
I tested the TomTom vs Google in new subdivisions in Auckland and Google was well out of date as you can see from the images.
This new subdivision in Long Bay is growing rapidly. The TomTom not only has all the roads that are open to the public, but also shows the new roads that will be opening in the next few weeks and months. Google only has about half of the actual roads in this location and people are moving into their new homes in the next month.
I’ve been at the end of the phone in a previous life when people rang to complain that their home or their business wasn’t on their brand new portable navigation device. Whilst many brands say they do updates ‘up to 4 times a year’, find out exactly what they updated and look for areas you might want to visit. The great thing is you can usually try a device out in the store before you buy.
TomTom Traffic. My last TomTom had a SIM Card in it and this was great until it expired and Real Time Traffic stopped working. It’s not a big deal to get it going again, but you had to pay for an update. The new TomTom ‘tethers’ to my mobile. That means that it uses my iPhone (wireless) to access the Internet (just for traffic data and it doesn’t use much at all) and it was so easy to set up! I’d never tethered a device to my iPhone before, but it was done in no time and worked first time.
TomTom uses a combination of real time traffic information from commercial GPS tracked vehicles as well as other TomTom users and is very accurate. They have been doing it around the world for a few years now and have the ability to differentiate what is normal and what isn’t. They have important data such as actual speed zones for the whole country.Some solutions decide what the speed zone might be, based on observed speeds. if we all observed the speed zones, they wouldn’t need the ‘safety camera‘ feature:)
I’ve had situations, such as with the mobile application Waze, where it warned me of slow traffic, which was in fact just normal traffic waiting at a red traffic light. TomTom also has ‘journalistic data’ which often explains why there is a problem and it offers you the choice of alternate routes while you are driving. you can preset it to automatically change to the best route or manually instruct it.
Traffic isn’t just about density either. TomTom knows about planned road maintenance, it knows that the motorway north is going to close at 8PM. It knows the best way to bypass that including the impact of the people who didn’t know it was going to be closed and created extra congestion.
It shows you where on your route the delays are, what time impact they will have on your journey and how much farther the congestion goes for in distance.
Have you ever been in a queue of people wanting to get on the Auckland Harbour Bridge from Herne Bay, finding its closed and trying to work out how to get to Fanshawe Street on a cold wet winter’s night? I have. That’s when I remind myself that knowing the way isn’t all there is to navigation.
But wait there is more. I’m not going to go into every feature, like tap and go, pinch to zoom and a 2 hour battery life, but there are a few really important things that will make a difference for you.
- Fast Response. One of the acid-tests for car navigation is what happens when you don’t follow the instructions. I used to do this a part of my job. You get distracted and you miss the turn the nav told you to take. Then as you drove it took time trying to process that you are no longer following its instructions and you subsequently missed the next street you could have taken. Not any more, and this is another advantage of a dedicated device. It reacts almost instantly and patiently guides you back on track.
- 3D Buildings. You may not think this is important, but it can help you orient yourself in a busy urban center, and it’s cool.
- Advanced Lane Guidance. This used to be limited to motorways, but now also includes many major roads. Kiwi drivers in cities are not great about letting you in when you find yourself in the wrong lane. Getting in the right lane early can save you a lot of grief. Again, currency of maps is really important. Highways are being modified constantly. (Tip: tapping on the lane guidance screen will return it to normal nav mode if you don’t want to wait)
- IQ Routes. With masses of people sharing their driving information with TomTom, it uses intelligence to learn from their behavior. If most people ignore the instructions of the GPS because they have local knowledge, there is probably a reason for it and this data gets added to the equation. That’s pretty smart.
I love the TomTom GO 600. I still believe that a separate device (especially with the big screen ) is the best way to go. It is designed for a purpose and leaves your phone to do the other things it was designed to do. I love the way it uses my phone for real time traffic so I don’t have to worry about the service expiring.
TomTom does have apps for iPhone and Android devices and they do work on the basis that you download all the maps and software onto your device so you don’t have to pay to download map data as you drive. They have nice features including muting your music to hear the instructions, navigation to your contacts (Navman used to do that on my Palm) integration with your calendar and your social media including Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and even SMS functionality. I might do another blog on that at some stage. One important difference is the GPS antenna. The GPS on your dedicated nav device is far more accurate and this can be important, as I mentioned previously, on a busy road when you miss the turn you wanted.
Whilst Google has some good new features and is ‘free’, it still uses a lot of mobile data and that costs money forever unless you work for a telco. Don’t take my word for it. Use a data usage application on your mobile before you start a journey and check it when you finish. Multiply that mobile data cost over the number of times you might use navigation over a year and you may find buying a dedicated device is cheaper. I know you can cache Google data to your mobile now, but I’m not convinced it is a better choice. Then of course there is information such as local speed zones and currency of maps.
I still use Google when I’m walking and using public transport locally and overseas.
When you compare car nav devices, don’t make the mistake that some reviewers make and test in urban centers where things don’t change much. Test it in areas where there are new motorway extensions, new suburbs, changes to intersections. Urban centers don’t change much, although Wellington turned some of its 1-way streets in the opposite direction and of course there were the Christchurch earthquakes which changed everything!
As I said, this is my opinion based on many years of professional experience. I welcome feedback and your comments on your experiences.
Have you ever been short of the taxi fare and don’t have cash or credit on your card? Ever had teenagers coming home after midnight and had to get out of bed to pay the fare? Ever had a cab driver saying you can’t split the fare on multiple credit cards.
Let’s face it, the taxi industry hasn’t got the greatest rep and when it comes to paying, it can be a pain sometimes for the average person. Ever been out on the town and want to split the fare? If it’s cash its not a problem, but if its EFTPOS or Credit Cards, its likely that the taxi driver doesn’t want to know. It takes time and may involve extra fees and also paperwork for reconciling fares and tips at the end of the day’s work.
What about the stories of people who call cabs but don’t have any money. Perhaps they want to stop at an ATM or gas station on the way, which is likely to ring alarm bells for the driver. What about the situation where they say their parents, or someone at home will pay when they get there, also a bit of a worry. You can see why the industry has problems and understand the situation from both sides.
Uber seems to have a lot of the answers which is possibly why a lot of other taxi companies don’t like them and some smarter ones are trying to emulate them.
As you can see on the image, you don’t even have to know where you are in order to hail a cab, just set the location on a map using the mobile’s GPS and they can not only confirm where you are, but they can also easily identify the nearest cab, not the one who is most keen to get the job.
What I think is really cool about this is that the people sharing the fee can be anywhere. It could be friends, family or your boss. They don’t even have to be in the same town, your parents could be out of state on holiday and still pay for your fare.
What this reinforces to me is that businesses need to listen to their customers. They need to understand what it is to be a customer, that’s why shows like Undercover Boss are so good. Every manager in a business should be an incognito customer from time to time.
There are established companies who innovate, but it is much easier for companies to just do what they usually do, BAU and therein lies the trap for old players and the opportunities for old and new.
Even better, get someone from outside to look at your business, who has no legacy. Get them to look at it from the perspective of the key people in the business and their clients. But most of all, ask the tough questions of your customers and listen to the answers. They might just help you stay profitable.
If Uber was in my city, I’d use them. These are smart entrepreneurs who are disrupting a well established business model with ease.
Our household did it online and I have to say it was a smooth and easy process. The questions we didn’t have to answer were grayed out and we were all done and dusted in no time. Hopefully this means that finally we can hold referendums and vote online in future.
However, to me it was a major missed opportunity to learn more about who Kiwis are, what they do and where. This seemed to be to be simply a modern version of the feudal system where nobility tried to establish how much tax they could claim from their citizens. I love the Census system, always used to use copies of the books the Statistics Department used to put out and have been a keen user of the tables and tool builders on the website over more recent years. This Big Data has a huge impact on where to do business, where to build shops and factories, schools etc and the potential to not require costly double ups of data collection as will remain necessary for many Government organisations.
Here are a few thoughts from me of things that I would have liked to know and would have been easy to include and a few comments on what was included:
Ethnicity. For a country that is so multi-ethnic there were only 8 ethnicities offered and one of them was New Zealand European. That effectively makes it a political question and one that does not allow qualitative or quantitative research. As anyone who has studied statistics knows, most European Caucasians will select the first option, leaving us with skewed data. How about culture. I know people who will register as Chinese because they look like their ancestors, but were born and raised in New Zealand and in most things they do other than appearance are indistinguishable from any other NZ born person. On the other hand there are people who totally live the culture of their family and do not integrate much with our everyday society.
The question on what languages you can have a conversation in, was easy for people who really don’t speak English, to say they do. This to me is important because we know there are now large numbers of people who will struggle to answer a question like “where is the nearest dairy?” in English.
What is your religion? This to me is very old school. You either belong to a sect or you have no religion. What if you are agnostic, spiritual but don’t belong to a particular church? This would effectively assume that if you have no religion, you do not believe in a higher spirit, God if you will.
I would have liked to know what people’s jobs are. As a futurist, I’m aware that many of today’s roles or job titles didn’t exist 20 years ago and it would be very interesting to be able to identify shifts in trends in employment. Yes, this information is available to IRD, but I want to know these answers and you could argue the same about the table which asks about personal annual income.
The employment questions also didn’t support all options. For example, I am a founder in a couple of start-ups. I am not an employee and I do not draw any money from the companies. I work very long hours in them. But I couldn’t answer the how many hours do you work in your job, because I’m not employed by the companies. These are not family businesses or family farms, although we do have a project creating virtual pets. Because I don’t have a ‘job’ all the options below these questions were grayed out. I was left with the questions of did I apply for a job and if so, how. BTW I also do not get any sort of benefit from the Government.
The only questions on health focused on disabilities that stop you from earning money or require a benefit. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to get more information on conditions such as asthma, diabetes, ADHD, Autism, Cancer etc. where people continue to work or study. Not so much from a single point in time but from a trend perspective. Tie this into geospatial mesh blocks and area units and some very interesting information might have emerged. What about depression and mental health? If we were able to see statistics based on location, what discoveries might that lead to? Perhaps ones that Government doesn’t want to reveal?
They asked how many cars were available to the household, not how old they were, how often they were used, how big the engines were, whether they were NZ new? Yes, again I know this information is collected by other Government agencies, but it is not made available to the public and business in the same way.
Question 32 would have appealed to teachers. In the last 7 days did you work for pay, profit or income for an hour or more. Novopay anyone? How many people worked but haven’t been paid? Many have waited much more than a week, I’ve heard of people who still have pay overdue for months! (No I am not a teacher).
What else would I like to know?
- Do you have a land-line (that has dial tone)? Because in the event of power outages like earthquakes, they often still work.
- Do you have a broadband connection? VOIP?
- How many computers do you have at home that can access the internet?
- How many mobiles do you have in the household that are connected? How many of those are Smartphones?
- How many hours a week do you spend: Playing Sport or other outdoor activities? In club or organised activities? Watching TV? Playing computer games? On social media?
- Do you BYOD to work and use it for work purposes?
- How often do you buy fast food or eat out?
- What about savings? What do people do with their money? Are they part of a super scheme like Kiwi Saver? Do they buy stocks (Mighty River Power would like to know)? What was the last big purchase in the last 12 months?
- How about leisure, do they go away for a holiday? In NZ or overseas? Can they afford one at all? How long for?
There are many more questions that could have been asked like, how easy was it to complete this online? Would you be happy to vote in the next elections online?
So in summing up, its great to finally have a Census again and I’m looking forward to finding out what has changed in New Zealand, particularly as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes, but also information like how many NZ born people have left the country permanently, what is the make up of this country today compared to the last Census.
Congratulations on what appeared to be a smooth online operation, but what a missed opportunity to get some more learning. I think there has been so much focus on finally getting the job done, that there was insufficient focus on getting some highly important and valuable new data. The world has changed so much in 5 years. It appears like Novopay, that not much else has when it comes to taking advantage of 21st Century technology.
What do you think?
I’ve been engaged in a conversation in a mobile marketing group LinkedIn discussion where people involved in solutions such as mobile coupons are complaining that retailers are intellectually lazy and not looking to embrace new technology.
I argued that most retailers focus on BAU (Business As Usual), working in their business employing strategies and technologies they have used for years, which they understand and can deal with. They do not spend anywhere near enough time working on their business, including strategies to embrace new technologies.
Many retailers have been hurt by one-day deal companies, where they gave up 50% and more in GP in the hope that if they gave great service, they would win new loyal customers. Of course we now know that didn’t work and the only ones that made big money out of it were one-day deal companies. They didn’t have to invest in inventory or carry any risk to speak of.
I’ve presented at a number of conferences on the topic of mobile and location based marketing. What I found really sad was that of all the delegates, the number of retailers at these events could generally be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I’ve been looking at how I could help retailers, particularly in New Zealand and Australia with solutions available today in a cost effective way. I think I have come up with a solution, but its going to take me a fair amount of time and money to deliver.
I will start in the area of Travel and Tourism, largely because they are more focussed on customers who are actively looking for services and new experiences and the industry is used to investing to win new business. Their market is also tough and the traditional business services continue to largely support those who own the systems, ie reservation engines, directories, commissions to tour operators, rather than retailers themselves. These businesses are easier for me to access and easier to quantify direct ROI. Also the individual transactions often have a higher dollar value, so if I can demonstrably increase their cashflow and profit and share in the gain, I can recover my costs more quickly.
I was thinking about how hard it is to get retailers out of the shop to talk to them and from years of calling on owner operator retailers in the past, trying to talk to them in their own environment with customers in store, that’s all but impossible.
So I’m thinking retail readers, if there are any here, and would welcome your feedback on the best way to get in front of you and your peers. The problem is that most of them will never read this. The majority do not attend retail conferences, they don’t even participate in their own main-street organisations. They don’t even do something as simple as co-promote their neighbours. I remember years ago hearing Mark Blumsky (past retailer and Wellington Mayor) talk at the New Zealand Retailers Association conference about how he collaborated with his neighbours by giving away free coffee coupons at the next door cafe to people who bought shoes from him and the cafe gave discount coupons for shoes to their patrons. Leading retailers (because they were at the conference) all talked about it during the lunch and coffee breaks, but I don’t know if a single one of them ever emulated the exercise.
We have amazing free services such as Foursquare and people have probably used one of these apps to check into your store. They may even be your Foursquare Mayor, but you probably don’t even know what Foursquare is.
You need to embrace mobile technology and I want to help. But you’re probably not reading this, so you will have to wait until I have helped some other people first. If you are reading this, leave a comment, connect with me and others who want to see Australasian retailers thrive and grow in this exciting new world. Learn at your own pace, but please step outside of BAU and do something. One little step a day is 365 steps a year and that’s quite a lot.
I’ve just read an article by Hugo Garcia of Futures Lab in Portugal in the latest issue of The Futurist. He was outlining how younger people today are more mobile, more focussed on consuming goods, services and experiences, rather than being attached to things and places. One area that he was strong on was the fact that people are now so mobile and keen to explore the world and their environments.
Location becomes far more important because you are continuing moving around as opposed to tied to a fixed location in the world. He said that one example is the trend towards not owning a home, perhaps ever. I always hear talk about how hard it is to get into property, I don’t think it has ever been easy. When we bought our first home (to give ourselves and our children some long term security) we bought in a cheap neighbourhood and at one stage were paying in excess on 20% interest. For a couple of years in the beginning, we went without pretty much anything, just to pay the interest. Today many don’t want to restrict their lifestyle, making it a choice, their choice is to live for today.
The ‘office’ is for many people today, especially knowledge workers, not somewhere we need to be a lot of the time and the cost of maintaining an office, commuting, car parking (you could almost rent a room for the cost of my Auckland City car park). We go to the office when we need to, for meetings, teamwork etc, but otherwise I can be much more productive from my home office.
Hugo talks about shared mobility. This is not a new concept, but certainly one that is coming back with a vengeance. Back in the 1960’s the Provos introduced white bikes that anyone could use. The idea was that you grabbed a bike, rode it to where you wanted to go and left it there for the next person to use. Their concept, same as today was to reduce pollution and traffic congestion and promote community engagement. They were certainly engaged as very quickly the bikes were stolen and repainted, but the idea was very good.
Today carpooling continues to grow, Zipcars, recently purchased by Avis, which is currently being debated as to whether it was an anticompetitive manoeuvre, is an example of car sharing, which in principle makes a lot of sense. People share ownership in boats, holiday homes and other items and many people are travelling around the world using the services of portals like Airbnb. There are loads of companies sprouting up like Whipcar, which lets you rent out your own vehicle when you don’t need it.
Globalisation is also an area that is changing rapidly. I remember reading history books about the great depression and how people moved from town to town looking for work. Mobility today is something far more international and international borders are being crossed continually by people in search of work, whether it is because they can’t find it at home, want a better life, or simply enjoy the itinerant lifestyle. Over a million Kiwis are working and living overseas, while British and other nationalities are moving to New Zealand to work on projects such as the reconstruction of Christchurch.
Hugo points out there are pro’s and cons. “Unfortunately, some areas may become abandoned because they lack competitive advantages. The war for talent between countries will increase, but regions that offer good living conditions may gain an advantage.
I note again that knowledge workers, one of the biggest industry segments today can often work from anywhere and travel when required. I know many journalists and developers that live in small towns for the lifestyle, but can still perform on a global stage.
This mobile society opens up huge scope for innovation and disruption, particularly with location based services, applications for mobile use, which can support the new mobile lifestyle. Kiwi developers can and are developing applications used globally, despite those that say you can’t be successful unless you are in Silicon Valley, things are changing. The money may be there, but they don’t have a monopoly of good ideas.
If anyone knows about a mobile lifestyle its Kiwis, anywhere is a long way from New Zealand. We know how to travel, we absorb and learn and we love new technology. Where we need help is harnessing our smarts, to help our innovators and entrepreneurs to learn how to scale and think big. That’s a tough ask and I don’t think our Government is doing anywhere near enough to ensure that smart people are able to grow from small concepts to large global enterprises.
I was just asking myself how I suddenly got on my soap box, but then I’m not sure I ever get off it:)